March 30, 2017 4:19 pm

Momma Bears – The Last Remaining Voucher Bill Stalls in Committee

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Yesterday, Rep. Brooks presented his voucher bill to the House Government Operations Committee. And boy! Did he get worn out with questions!

There were so many questions that time ran out before the Committee even got to vote on the bill.

So, the last remaining voucher bill is now stalled in Gov. Op. Committee with insiders predicting it will be killed in Finance. And this bill needs killing in the worst way. Yesterday’s hearing brought out some really big problems.

Here are just a few of the problems discussed in Committee:

  •  Shelby County Taxpayers will Fund the State’s Voucher Pilot

If you think the only financial repercussions of the voucher pilot is the loss state funding for Shelby County Schools, you would be WRONG!! Local Shelby County tax dollars will also be spent on the experimental State voucher plan. Representative Harry Brooks from Knox County made it clear that both state and local BEP money will fund the pilot. In fact, the State will only provide about half of the voucher money, the other half will have to come from the Shelby County Commission’s budget.

  • The 5 Year Voucher Pilot Financially Obligates Shelby County for 17 years

Rep. Brooks explained that the bill calls for voucher recipients to receive tuition payments for the duration of their K-12 education. That means vouchers will offered for five years to an escalating number of Shelby County School students. But the funding obligation will remain until those students graduate from high school. So, Shelby County will be obligated to pay private school tuition for 12 years after the voucher pilot ends. This 5 year voucher pilot will result in a 17 year funding obligation for both the State and Shelby County! 

  • No Financial Oversight Provided for the Voucher Program

Rep. Brooks admitted to the Gov. Op Committee that there would be no financial oversight of the schools that are participating in the Shelby County voucher pilot. None. Nada. Zip.

​That means that private schools accepting public dollars for vouchers:

****WILL NOT follow the Tennessee Internal School Uniform Accounting Policy
****WILL NOT be overseen by the State Comptroller’s Office
****WILL NOT be required to provide an annual school audit to the public 

  • Catholic Schools Say “NO” to secular education and TNReady Testing

Jennifer Murphy, who represents the Tennessee Catholic Public Policy Commission, flat out told legislators that Memphis Catholic schools would not change their religious mission nor would they subject any of their students, including those with vouchers, to TNReady state standardized testing.

She seemed perturbed at the thought of segregating the “free & reduced lunch” kids for TNReady testing while other Jubilee students only took the nationally normed test currently administered to Catholic School students. You can read more about vouchers and the Memphis Catholic Jubilee Schools here and here. ​​

And for those Gov. Op. Committee members asking about which private schools in Memphis would and would not take vouchers, she clarified that Christian Brothers High School in Memphis has gone on record saying that they would not accept vouchers. Big Surprise that CBHS won’t touch vouchers with a 10 foot pole!

We bet other high achieving private schools won’t accept them either which brings us back to the question:

What exactly is the point of vouchers?

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the schools who do all the choosing!

In case you haven’t noticed, SCS iZone is number 1 in student success!